Lauren Henderson - Too Many Blondes
Hodder and Stoughton 16.99

In an interesting twist on the "femme fatal" scenario where man sees beautiful woman, man kills rival for her affections, Lauren Henderson gives us a clutch of women all working, or working out, at a seedy gym near Camden Market, one of who must be responsible for the body in the women's toilets.
The body is that of Linda, the blond manager of the gym and much-hated, for various reasons, by the staff. Her boyfriend is the man concerned, the one they all love and lust after, weights instructor Derek Brewster, beautiful but with a "Stud-u-like reputation" and no conscience. Sam Jones is the part-time teacher at the gym and part-time sculptress who takes it upon herself to solve the puzzle and so uncovers all kinds of secrets along the way. She is unconventional, having a liking for recreational drugs, including Solpadeine, one night stands, dance music and big black boots with lots of zips and laces. She is also very likable, smart, sarcastic, street-wise and horrified with herself for developing a more than passing interest in the policeman involved in the case, one DC Hawkins. Still, she handles it all with her usual cynical sense of humour and commonsense, having her platonic friend Tom to fall back on when things get tough and she begins to suspect that she can't trust anyone or, if she can, she has no idea who.
This is an original, whodunnit full of wisecracks and very clever word-play. Perhaps the characters do suffer slightly from the author's attempt to make sure every end is tied. I did get the feeling that plot preceded character which can make things seem a little too neat rather than natural - a feeling of; " that had to happen", rather than " of course, that had to happen". Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and hope Lauren Henderson has plenty more up her sleeve.


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